Same-sex couples challenge birth certificate law

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – When same-sex married couples have a baby in Indiana only one of the parents is listed on the birth certificate.

A lawyer for same-sex couples argued in federal court Friday that it’s unconstitutional.

It comes down to this: should a woman who is legally married be forced to go through an adoption process to become a parent? It’s what happens right now in Indiana.

Seven of eight couples who are behind a lawsuit against the state and county officials who administer birth certificates emerged from a federal court hearing.

“We just want to be able to put our names on the birth certificates,” said Nicole Singley, “and be the legal parents of our children.”

All eight used a third party sperm donor to start a family and said they are treated differently than heterosexual couples who do the same thing.

Attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman said that in those cases the authorities trust the mother.

“She can say, ‘I want my husband to be listed on the birth certificate,'” she said. “She doesn’t have to provide any proof. That’s it. He gets to walk out of the hospital with all the legal rights of a parent.”

Jackie Phillip-Stackman donated an egg for the child that was delivered by her wife. She’s not on the birth certificate.

“My daughter, I have no legal tie to my own daughter,” she said, “and I’m told that I need to go through a step parent adoption process which is, it’s a little insulting.”

Noell Allen’s name was left off a birth certificate, too.

“Our twins passed away at birth,” she said. “I can’t adopt my children.”

For those who can adopt it costs $4,000 or more, often more than what they can afford.

“So those children come out of the hospital with only one parent,” said Celestino-Horseman. “And to top it all off, they’re considered to be children born out of wedlock.”

Attorneys for the state declined comment after the hearing but Attorney General Gregg Zoeller issued a curious statement. He said that he is “mindful of the concerns that the plaintiff couples raise” but that “laws are presumed to be constitutional until a court detemines otherwise.”

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has taken the case under advisement.

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